Monday, October 16, 2006
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Honored by ABA for Juvenile Crime Program
By a MetNews Staff Writer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has been honored with the American Bar Association’s 2006 Hodson Award for Public Service, the agency said.
The award, which recognizes “sustained, outstanding performance or a specific and extraordinary service by a government or public sector law office,” was presented to
the D.A.’s office for its Juvenile Offender Intervention Network program.
District Attorney Steve Cooley Friday received the award Friday on the agency’s behalf at the fall meeting of ABA’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division in Denver.
“I’m grateful the American Bar Association deemed this program was worthy of national recognition,” Cooley said in a statement.
JOIN, launched by former L.A. County D.A. Gil Garcetti in 1994, provides intervention and accountability for first-time juvenile offenders, aged 10 to 17, who commit serious non-violent offenses like joyriding and drug possession.
Under the program, prosecutors refer eligible youthful offenders to a hearing officer in the D.A.’s office as an alternative to juvenile court or formal court prosecution.
The minor and his or her parent or guardian meet with the hearing officer and together enter into an agreement requiring the minor to abide by a number of conditions: paying any necessary restitution in full, attending school, earning passing grades, participating in community service, taking counseling classes, and submitting to regular progress reports.
According to a spokesperson for the agency, about five to six percent of juvenile crime cases are diverted to JOIN, and over 85 percent of program participants successfully stay out of the juvenile court system.
“This has been a tremendously effective program,” Cooley said.
Since the beginning of his administration in 2000, the D.A. has been a strong proponent of JOIN, funding it despite budgetary cutbacks and eventually expanding it from one location to all 10 juvenile courts in the county.
“In addition to offering rehabilitation to young offenders who go through the program, it has provided millions of dollars in savings to taxpayers,” he remarked.
The agency estimates that each successful JOIN case saves the justice system over $7,000 by avoiding costs for judges, court staff, police, probation officers, defense and prosecution. Annually, the estimated savings total approximately $7.9 million.
Past California-based recipients of the Hodson Award include the San Diego Public Defender’s Office in 2001 and the California’s Administrative Office of the Courts’ Center for Families, Children and the Courts, based in San Francisco, in 2003.
Eligible nominees for the award include all government or public sector law offices at the federal, state and local levels.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company